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Concert Review: OK Go

(Courtesy of Gus Powell)

By KellyAnne Tang

July 26, 2014 9:02 a.m.

Famous for its imaginative music videos involving treadmills and wallpaper, alternative band OK Go performed at the Echo for the first time Wednesday night.

In the quirky nightclub sandwiched between natural foods cafes and wacky art galleries in the heart of Echo Park, the four band members entered the stage in a burst of sound with “Upside Down & Inside Out,” a song from their upcoming album, “Hungry Ghosts.”

OK Go’s performance had all the elements of an epic movie prom scene from the ’90s, including colored lights, confetti explosions and that one group of girls in the audience busting all the dance moves they’ve been choreographing at slumber parties.

All night, the band kept the party going with a blend of beloved hits like the punchy “The Writing’s on the Wall” and “Get Over It” as well as a taste of what’s to come on “Hungry Ghosts” with songs like “I Won’t Let You Down” and the sultry “Obsession.” The group’s new songs captured the same style that characterized previous albums, but the band members experimented with playing different instruments.

The small stage could barely fit the four band members and the two crew members constantly refilling the confetti canons, but Damian Kulash, the lead vocalist and guitarist, was at home in the intimate venue. The boundary between the band and the audience was blurred as he bantered with the guy in the second row from the front and instigated impromptu Q&A; sessions. In case anyone is wondering, Kulash’s favorite children’s movie is “Babe: Pig in the City.”

It was easy to forget that the audience was a room full of strangers since the band’s ease in front of the crowd created a sense of camaraderie. Kulash’s self-deprecating charm and affectionate reference to the audience as the band’s “nerdy fans” maintained a casual, friendly atmosphere.

Halfway through the show, the band even got the audience in on the performance, recording synchronized stomps and claps from the crowd using an app on Kulash’s phone. Drummer Dan Konopka remixed the sounds and the band performed “There’s a Fire” to the resulting beat.

In a break from the band’s usual electric sound, Kulash took an acoustic guitar out to the middle of the crowd and performed a tender rendition of “Last Leaf.”

Toward the end of the show, OK Go started to lose momentum when it performed a slower “Skyscrapers.” The band quickly recovered, however, with the last song, the energetic “Turn Up the Radio,” another song from its upcoming album. The crowd’s excitement reignited, and a last blast of confetti littered the room. The audience chanted the group’s name as the lights went out.

Just as the audience members were about to lose steam in their cheers for more, the band finally returned to the stage to perform a new song, “The One Moment,” and the hit “Here It Goes Again.” Cheers broke out as the familiar chords of the last song filled the room. The crowd showered the band with high-fives and fist bumps as they left the stage for the last time.

The night’s performance demonstrated OK Go’s ability to bridge the boundary between the performer and the audience. The lucky fans that attended got to be friends with the band for the night and even participated in the show – overall an experience that was probably well worth the admission.

– KellyAnne Tang

Email Tang at [email protected]

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KellyAnne Tang
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